A GROUP of cancer campaigners covered their faces in plain packaging outside the Houses of Parliament today in support of Cancer Research UK’s latest campaign, ‘The answer is plain’.
The campaign is calling on the Government to pass legislation that will require all tobacco products to be sold in plain, standardised packaging – giving health warnings more impact and putting an end to the tobacco industry’s packet racket.
The protest was part of a plain packaging ‘Action Day’ organised by Cancer Research UK to rally support for the campaign up and down the country. The charity is aiming for 50,000 petition signatures by 10 July to help convince the Government plain packaging is a vital way to help protect future generations from taking up this deadly habit. Around 157,000 children aged 11 to 15 start smoking each year, and it is hoped that plain packaging will give them one less reason to start.
Jean King, director of tobacco control at Cancer Research UK said: “We have a strong reputation for campaigning passionately on tobacco issues, and hope that people will get behind us on The answer is plain.
“We know from research that plain packaging will help to reduce the number of people that start smoking, and that’s why we think it’s so important for the Government to change the law.
“Smoking is by far the most important preventable cause of cancer and is responsible for nearly a fifth of all cancer cases. With eight out of ten smokers starting by age 19*, steps to introduce plain packaging need to be taken now to stop children and young people starting in the first place – before it’s too late.
“Our cancer campaigners have taken a stand today and shown their vital support for plain packaging. Please join them, and us, by signing the petition to stop the packet racket.”
Jan Sheward, one of the cancer campaigns ambassadors taking part in Cancer Research UK’s Action Day, understands only too well the devastating impact smoking can have. At the protest, Jan said: “My husband died of oesophageal cancer aged just 59 after smoking 40 a day from the age of 14. If he hadn’t smoked, he’d still be with me today. It is very sad that smoking meant he’s missed his children growing up and meeting our beautiful grandchildren. Over 80 per cent of adults in the UK believe that children shouldn’t be exposed to tobacco marketing**, so I want everyone to join me in the campaign for plain packaging to protect generations of children from the allure of this deadly addiction.”
Brightly coloured, glitzy packaging is one of the last remaining marketing tools for the tobacco industry, and it relies more and more on stylish tobacco packs to recruit new, young smokers than ever before. By reducing the attractiveness of tobacco products through the introduction of plain packaging, children will be more protected from this highly addictive and seriously harmful product.
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* Goddard E. General Household Survey 2006: Smoking and drinking among adults 2006. (2008) Office for National Statistics, Newport
** Polling figure from YouGov Plc.Total sample size was 4099 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th March – 2nd April 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).